With rapid population growth, increased demand for more food, fragile ecosystems, increasing energy demand and eminent dangers from climate change, the agricultural sector in Ethiopia will invest in technological advances to guarantee food security at household level, clinch availability of sufficient supply for industries and increase the production of selected agricultural outputs for the export market.
The agriculture sector extends its opportunities to farmers, industrialists, exporters, aggregators and other key players and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is committed to work with all involved to ensure transformation of the sector will be realized at a much faster pace than ever before. The three domains MoA will be focusing will center on the provision of optimal incentives to sector participants, availing evidence, data, skills and knowledge to farmers, extension workers, scientists and policy makers and to invest in key priority infrastructures to translate the country natural resources to good and sustainable use.
It is imperative to implement robust incentive programs to attract value chain players (farmers, financiers, market actors, service providers and government institutions) and bridge government and private sector divide. The private sector will play a pivotal role in the sector and root out the long existing inefficiencies and support the economic transition from agriculture to industries. The agriculture sector must carry the responsibility to avail the quality and volume of agricultural output through productivity increase and strategic commodity selection to respond both to national and global industries and consumer demand.
A wide spectrum of stakeholders including, farmer, scientists, researchers, extension workers, government agencies, value chain actors will, in the interest of self-preservation, create efficiency in input marketing, irrigation, mechanization, market platforms and value addition activities. Agriculture sector, if harnessed, is an enticing business venture that requires innovation and collaborative mindset that rewards hard work and ethical behavior.
The agriculture sector in Ethiopian context, to say the least, is deficient of systematic data capture, data dissemination, analytics and return of investment and profitability decision. Decision making at all level including farmer’s choice when to plant, when and how to apply correct inputs is encumbered by lack of quality and timely information availability. Besides, the knowledge base at MoA must be re-aligned to respond to key challenges (climate change, digitization, diseases etc). To this effect, the Ministry of agriculture along with its key implementation partner will work to re-build the crumbling human resource capacity at federal, regional, zonal and woreda level through demand driven short and long term training and by expanding modern digitized learning platforms and IT and data infrastructures to emphasize and sustain agricultural and business knowledge and analytics at, expert, leaders and farmer level. It is my belief that agriculture must be led by knowledge not cronyism and/or political interference.
The overlapping responsibilities of the private sector and government must be redefined. The private sector is expected to be the engine for change hence smart investment is expected to be re-aligned to the many growth opportunities that will underpin agriculture transformation of Ethiopia. The government in its part will continue to invest in strategic domain such as improving irrigation infrastructure; investing in modernizing agricultural practices and research and development. Currently, MoA has developed an investment roadmap that stimulates interest across a wide range of participants and contributes to sustainable agriculture development
In closing, I would like to remind readers that time for agricultural transformation is now and the next decade will definitely provide our nation an excellent trajectory to not only deliver on food security but also to support industrial transition, expand export businesses and revamp knowledge base of the sector while diversifying foreign/ local business relationship for the ultimate goal of improving income and quality of life of all constituents.